Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars Designer Diary #3 - Introducing the New Interface

Executive producer Mike Verdu takes us on a tour and introduces us to how you'll command your armies in Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars.

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If you had to name one franchise responsible for establishing the successful real-time strategy formula, you can make a very strong argument for Command & Conquer. The original C&C was one of the first games to feature the concepts of real-time resource gathering, base building, army construction, and combat, and it was incredibly popular thanks to great gameplay and a memorable setting. Command & Conquer will return with Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars, the first new chapter in the franchise in more than three years. As such, EA is looking to update the series with new ideas while at the same time staying true to its roots. To give us an example, we have executive producer Mike Verdu discussing how EA went about updating how you control armies in Tiberium Wars. The game's release date has not yet been announced.

Command & Conquer will finally return in Tiberium Wars.

Push-Button Warfare


By Mike Verdu
Executive Producer, EA LA

For the three generations of Command & Conquer fans working on the Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars team, there is a constant challenge: finding the right balance between innovation and the classic and timeless features that define C&C. Our goal is to make a game that is fresh but familiar--a state-of-the-art 2007 real-time strategy (RTS) game that also gives fans the feeling that they've reconnected with the essence of C&C. If we're successful, people will feel like they are finally coming home when they play our game, but they'll also be surprised at how great the game looks and plays, and how cool some of the new features are to use.

A great example of the balance between the classic and the new is the in-game user interface (UI). The C&C 3 UI started with a simple idea: Make a best-of-breed RTS in-game UI that combined features from the traditional C&C "side bar" and the Command & Conquer Generals-style "command bar" interface. Then, add a healthy dose of accessibility and ease of use based on the lessons we've learned with our more recent games. The end result is an in-game UI that is approachable, intuitive, and easy to use for the novice RTS gamer but has tremendous power and flexibility for the hardcore player.

The old-style C&C side bar had some amazing features that are classic and yet timeless at the same time, including the ability to manage production queues from anywhere on the battlefield. You could command your war factories and barracks to produce tanks and soldiers without scrolling over to your base. In effect, you had total control anywhere on the battlefield.

On the other hand, the Generals UI embodied five years of learning about RTS UI when it was designed in 2002 and 2003. Among other things, the Generals UI gave players lots of data about individual units or groups of units and the ability to manage a whole range of upgrades and special abilities at the unit level.

Since Generals, we've been through two more generations of in-game UI and learned even more about how to make great RTS controls, especially about how to build an RTS UI that is intuitive, accessible, and easy to use.

So how does our new UI work? At its core, it consists of a traditional C&C side bar interface with the contextual information and object-level control of the Generals UI. This allows players to easily control all production structures from anywhere on the map without the use of control groups, select and control any structure individually, purchase unit-level upgrades, and use tactical unit abilities. Players have an unprecedented level of control over their forces, allowing high-level strategic management and tactical-level micromanagement that's par with any modern RTS game. Additionally, and possibly most importantly, we have found this UI to be both familiar and intuitive to players, regardless of what RTS games they've played in the past.

The forces of the Global Defensive Initiative once again battle the Brotherhood of Nod.

We've been playing the game with the new UI for a few months, and even our diehard C&C fans on the team are excited about how well the side bar and controls work. The design seems to be living up to its potential in terms of flexibility, power, and accessibility. Personally, I'm delighted that it's a snap to use in addition to packing all of the features that hardcore gamers need. I can't wait to get it into the hands of gamers everywhere.

C&C 3 Control Interface/Side Bar Definitions
1. Objectives / Player Status: Click this button to view your primary and bonus objectives during the single-player campaign, or view player status and alliances during multiplayer games.

2. Sell Button: Use this button to sell your structures and be refunded a percentage of their build cost.

3. Power Toggle: Use this button to shut down an individual structure in trade of freeing up more power for the rest of your base.

4. Repair Button: Use this button to repair your damaged structures.

5. Power Meter: Use this meter to determine how much power your base is generating versus consuming. Moving your cursor over the meter will provide exact numbers.

6. Minimap: The minimap provides a strategic overview of the battlefield and allows for instant navigation to any point on the map.

7. Resources: This displays the total amount of resources available to purchase items.

8. Contextual Tab: The contextual tab provides the commander with a complete listing of all selected units and structures. This allows the commander to quickly view the composition of his forces, add or remove units from his group, give unit-specific orders without losing his top-level group selection, and a host of other organizational tools.

9. Production Tabs: Use these tabs to manage your production queues from anywhere on the battlefield. Each tab represents a unique category, specifically production structures, defensive structures, infantry, vehicles, and aircraft. By clicking on these tabs, you will be presented with all of your available construction options.

The Tiberium Wars interface.

10. Production Sub-Tabs: Use the sub-tab system to manage your production queues for each individual structure, allowing you to create different units out of each barracks, war factory, etc. Each sub-tab represents a production structure under its parent production tab. By double-clicking on a sub-tab, the camera will be taken to that production structure.

11. Build Buttons: Use these buttons to queue up, pause, or cancel the building of units and structures. Remember, build times will be longer if your base is low on power.

12. Contextual Window: This section displays a portrait and the overall information about the currently selected unit or structure.

13. Health: This bar represents the remaining hit points on the selected unit or squad.

14. Upgrades: These images display which upgrades the item can receive and/or if they have already been purchased.

15. Combat Chain: These icons indicate where the unit falls in the combat chain. The green section indicates what weapon the unit has (middle icon) and what unit types that weapon is strong against. The red section indicates what unit type it is (middle icon) and what weapons that unit is weak against.

16. Veterancy: If the selected unit has earned enough combat experience to gain a rank, their new veterancy level will be displayed here.

17. Special Abilities: Use these buttons to activate special abilities for the selected unit or structure.

18. Purchase Upgrades: Use these buttons to purchase upgrades for the selected unit or structure.

19. Common Command Interface: This bottom bar allows quick and easy access to many of the most commonly used commands. Some of these include attack, move, force fire, stop, and rules of engagement.

20. Superpower Timers: Has your enemy constructed a devastating superweapon? If so, the weapon name, player color, and countdown timer will be represented here. If the timer has stopped, then the enemy is low on power and now would be your best time to strike.

21. Player Powers: Gained from building certain faction structures, these special powers can range from artillery strikes and bombing runs to radar scans and reinforcements. The left side of the screen will fill up with these powers as you gain them throughout a match.

Discussion

114 comments
SPC4MAFIA
SPC4MAFIA

The biggest problem with Generals was the Superweapons. Gone were the days of armies clashing together, (which had only one up side = you didn't have to struggle with frame rates slowing down), and instead, you sat your ass at your walls, and built up ion cannons and nukes. It was gay once it got there. Hopefully, the reqs for the super weapons will be higher, e.g. make each nuke require a certain amount of resources, etc. Game looks great, always has - the key is to balance the playability. Make it FUN!

RTSFanatic
RTSFanatic

"It's very nice, but compared to Supreme Commander, it's lacking of innovation and I think Westwood Guys should put a new twist in the C&C Series." --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Of course it is lacking in innovation, it's EA for godsakes! As for the Westwood guys putting a new twist on things, that would be hard since they all work at Petroglyph. I think the new C&C teams consists of Mike Verdu and Interns. Just relax everyone, I'm sure this will look and play identical to C&C Generals but with a sidebar interface.

Cray_Dharker
Cray_Dharker

OMGWTFBBQ???!?!?!?? Did ANYONE find the controls in Generals bad? Admittedly, when you have an army out, and yor base is being pounded, it was annoying then, but anyone who didn't know how to make decent defences shouldn't have been playing the game. Maybe this is a good thing... Bit it's still a step backwards. Having a huge lumpy thing at the side of the screen I always find annoying when I journey back to RA2 or Tiberian Sun. (lol Spelling suggestion for OMGWTFBBQ = AGORAPHOBIC)

ProPa1N
ProPa1N

Off the chain, as long as superweapons are not mandatory.

solidgearmetal
solidgearmetal

I'm aslo in the Company of Heroes boat. It looks and plays superior to any other rts game out there. I really hope EA takes a serious look at COH and maybe reconsider the current engine they're using. I don't care if EA postponse Tiberium Wars just as long as the game is done right. I'd rather have them scrap the project and start over. I can't bare another bad C&C game. With Halo Wars on the horizon EA has to really take this game seriously.

mehryar_tank
mehryar_tank

it is going to be a great game in command and conquer series.but i dont like some of it's things like nod mechs they are so ugly and some of their tanks are so fat. and one more thing.why dont the ea give us a multiplayer demo of it now like battlefield 2142.i think it is kind of ready.like the Liepzik gameplay.

TheGm86
TheGm86

Westwood is dead.......been dead for a while. But. Westwood lives in death. Long live Westwood!

jbi00b
jbi00b

It's very nice, but compared to Supreme Commander, it's lacking of innovation and I think Westwood Guys should put a new twist in the C&C Series.

Apocalypse_3d
Apocalypse_3d

Wow sweet another C&C cant wait this really is shaping up to be ah good game now i cant wait till it comes out nexted year cant wait

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

this is shaping up to a good game..looking forward to it next year

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

Screenshots are what the game looks like at high resolution theres ben alien technology sense Tiberium Sun, nothing to big. yes generals sucked but this one looks not sucky.

Maitland82
Maitland82

Gotta go with kaziechameleon on this one. From the screens it looks like they've just gone way overboard with lighting effects and ironically as a result the models don't look grounded in the scenery. Granted these are early screens so I won't be too quick to judge. Company of heroes achieves a more realistic look without all the fancy lighting. Plus for me C&C was always reasonably grounded in reality. Ok the first ones were reasonably futuristic not not too far-fetched and then red alert was obviously more historical but now they're getting into alien technology and for me the series has taken a turn for the worse. I bought Generals and never even bothered to complete it I found it that dull. You couldn't build a decent base anymore, a feature i loved in the original C&C. Come on guys. get your act together.

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

i'm sorry but this game looks like nothing next to titles like company of heroes, while other companies have moved forward graphically EA has used the same engine for over four years, time to move on, the C&C generals engine isn't that great anymore, actually i don't think it's that great at all. after the destructible enviroments of company of heroes it's hard to see any engine as comparing without somthing similar. this game looks ok, but i would put it past earth 2060. so i'm not enthused for this game, after all generals sucked, and BFME 2 was also a let down. i'm tired of hoping EA will inovate.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

Ok, if you like pc games, save some mony to upgrade your computer. you only need a 256 mg video card to play the new cool games, wich is something like $80. I upgraded my comp for about $250 & it runs EAW{Starwars empire at war} just fine. from what I noticed the screenshots are at the highest reselution. the higher the reselution the better it looks but runs slower, lower it & runs faster but looks worse. so if you don't want to upgrade your pc {except 256mg video card } just lower reselution. Virases/spyware will slow down your pc. If you alredy knew this stop complaining.

Stolen_Kuniva
Stolen_Kuniva

Aww yeah, these screenshots look awesome, and this interface sounds cool too.

bridges2002000
bridges2002000

Reading the info above im in awe of the skill and thinking of ea and for listening to the cries from its followers. When c&c 3 hit the scene it will change rts world as we know it, but many people will have to update there rigs. So come on ea we need this game let us loose with it already we have waited to long

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

Don't see what's so special about this ui bar thing. I guess I'll have to check it out when the game comes out.

ENHALO
ENHALO

i guess it's up to me (again) to explain things: first off: the UI that is in the pic was enlarged to show the DETAILS of it; this won't be the final size i also highly doubt EA is going to listen to a bunch of drooling, teething, foaming-at-the-mouthes-over-the-sight-of-CNC3-images noobs for advice i personally think that what they did (combine the ease-of-use of past CNC interfaces with the easy-to-access superpowers concept of Generals/Zero Hour) was a good idea what i don't like is the fact that they are using squad-based infantry (as a die-hard cnc fan (sane unlike the rest of you), i'm used to single infantry; this would allow me to sneak a couple in the back door, split them up, and cause mass-mayhem while a frontal of mine distracts them) and lastly, you honestly think someone is just going to GIVE you a game that isn't even close to demo ready? cha, i have a better chance of winning the lottery on the first try, and I'M 17 seriously, calm down, wipe up your spit, go get your rabies shots, and wait like the rest of the world

audioust
audioust

always loved C&C. cant wait to get my hands on thoose virtual nukes again!

saifiii
saifiii

so NOD vs GDI again or some new factions? i have the previous 2s and i liked them but the original was better than generals in my opinion

Omihalcon
Omihalcon

Now that is the old school style i like; this game is gonna go off!

Spotdestroyer
Spotdestroyer

The Juggernaut is here but... Where the heck happened to the rest of the Titan Delivery System?? I know EA wanted teh "good'ol'days" back with medium tanks and mk1s, but what is the official story behind why GDI abandoned their single most versitile weapon against NOD and go back to the tracked versions?

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Yes, it looks like a good game. But don't forget that Supreme Commander is also coming...

payback_56
payback_56

should be a great game, the other all were, it just takes forever for them to come out with the next game each time, but oh well, i know its gonna be good, and worth buying!!

GFofgaming
GFofgaming

I want to return to the Tiberium universe!

doomhesoka55
doomhesoka55

It's great and I hope in next preview we will know the release date ***I cant wait***

Dav_id83
Dav_id83

Let's see if they can balance out the units like StarCraft that game has the most well balanced units in any RTS game. You can argue but I'm sticking to it cause it does thou C&C: TW looks rather cool and a lot better than Generals & Zero. Them games once completed I never went back to not even worth £20 for the deluxe pack. As you only get £11 trade in at the local game store pointless.

redvodka
redvodka

I am Far more concerned about the AI navigation in this game. So far, the units in C & C still go from point A to point B when you click on a destination without even considerin gif they are going through enemy territory. This means, most of the time, you still have to micromanage where and how your units move to a location. EA still has yet to address this problem, i'm only hoping they take this into consideration in this Tiberium Wars.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

I think I missed a c&c game could someone tell me wich one had aliens. Unless it was tiberium sun, {the crashed alien ship}

Mephistroth
Mephistroth

I think it would be sweet to have an autohide bar function or, push button to show the bar on keyboard, cuz i like being able to show the full screen however if it was button bindable it would be easy cuz i know id turn it on and off several hundred times during a mission. but id still like to get rid of it and be on my alart

Scorpius7
Scorpius7

God bless the old school sidebar. I was thinking about it....what are the chances that someone who worked at Westwood bought the rights to a game called "Tiberian Twilight" and won't let EA have it....it 'd be a funny explanation for the current title. anyway, looks sweet. lets hope NOD's nuke effects are top notch (along with my favorite- the ion cannon). oh yeah and aliens were introduced last game, so i wouldn't be surprised if that's the 3rd race, or the Forgotten again...or something random to go with C&C's style

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

I'm wondering if there is a third faction or if there was a typo that mean't c&c 3 But I sware I saw something that said something about a third faction. I looked at the EA c&c 3 offical website and there was a thing on tibereum. part of it said "some scientist speculate tibereum is an alien terriforming device". So the third faction might be ALIENS!!

Cubb7
Cubb7

Looks awesome. Cant wait!!

DerekLee688
DerekLee688

Hey, are they ever going to let us see the third race or not? Skrew the stuff on the interface, I can read the install guide for that. Don't give us bio's on the G.D.I., then N.O.D., and just skip the third. That's BS.

Lazy_Marine
Lazy_Marine

HORRAY FOR SIDEBAR! , and i hope they don't forget to include the kick-ass industrial music C&C always had (we miss you frank!). Alot of the original team from westwood aren't working for EA anymore, but i'm keeping my hopes that the new team will still maintain the same core gameplay that made C&C a LEGEND among RTS games. BTW, we are still waiting for TIberian Twilight! (The TRUE sequel to Tiberian Sun and The last announced c&c project before westwood went bankrupt)

CyReNiUsX
CyReNiUsX

I think they hinted at the specifications before; if i remember correctly you need to be able to run Battle for Middle-Earth II smoothly to have any chance at running this =p

princegee4
princegee4

Hey.wow the new UI idea is preety cool but lets see wat will be the system requirements.any way TO C&C..cheers..

GDI_Orca91
GDI_Orca91

Hey, all of you guys worrying about how massive the UI looks in that shot, remember, the whole point of the shot was to display all aspects of the UI, so it's greatly enlarged. For reference, just take a look at the UI in the 14 min demo vid that I think was on the gamevideos website, as it shows the UI in-game, and it seems no bigger than the old sidebar from TS or RA2. Plus, if you have a widescreen, then it'll be even better! This is gonna be great! Can't wait to try it out.

MikeySSH
MikeySSH

the new UI looking incredebal! I can't wait to get my hands on this... but it seems like a computer update would be essential to have it look that damn beautiful! C&C RULES!

AgmLauncher
AgmLauncher

Zemper, stfu. You don't know what you're talking about. I'm so sick of these "C&C fans" who want a remake of Tiberian Dawn. People should need a license to use the internet...........

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Cool... the user interface has a sleek design yet looks easy to use. Seems familiar enough to veterans of old C&C games but evolved enough to be on par with current RTS games.

Mrglorp
Mrglorp

Ok im confused I thought you were complimenting EA. I should have know from the 4 stars.{*} EA bought West wood. you swor so much I barly understood what you were talking about. Yes, they messed up w/ generals But it looks like they fixed it. If you don't like C&C why are you posting that here? The story of C&C probably has the coolest story of any RTS Ive played. I don't like EA that much but I like C&C and yes im calling it Command and Conquer 3!!! So HA

Zemper
Zemper

As a Prime Command & Conquer Fan following Westwood steps since the Start "Command & Coqnuer Dawn" I Have to say that: EA congratulations you **** a very good game, since you released generals I noticed that command & conquer was dead, you killed him, now this is not command & conquer, this crap don't deserves to be named command & conquer, this is pure lame and crap whit shiny graphics. I loved NOD...now I don't like it, thanks to you. The interface is all **** up, whit your new "improved **** So people I only want to tell you, if you don't believe me, just BUY the "Command & Conquer First Decade" or download it from Torrent, any game you want ...any real command & conquer, Red alert?, Red alert 2, Tiberian Sun, any one you want, and you will see, the difference from true art to this crap. Hail Westwood, For Ever and Ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CyReNiUsX
CyReNiUsX

This is an EA hater and C&C3 sceptic speaking: Good job :) C&C3 might actually be good But still need to make sure: 1. Gameplay is fun 2. SUPPORT THE DAMN GAME, NOT ABANDON A MONTH AFTER IT'S EXPANSION COMES OUT.

cardiac_cat
cardiac_cat

good cuz my pc is ridiculously powerful!!

HailEnki
HailEnki

Hey everyone if you BUY this game just to let you know this is probally something you will have to agree to look! This comes with BF 2142 that comes out tommorow so I think we can assume theres a good chance we will be seeing this in this EA game as well as most future online EA games. The Software may incorporate technology developed by IGA Worldwide Inc. ("IGA") (the "Advertising Technology"). The purpose of the Advertising Technology is to deliver in-game advertisements to you when you use the Software while connected to the Internet. When you use the Software while connected ot the Internet, the Advertising Technlogy may record your IP address and other anonymouse information ("Advertising Data"). The Advertising Data is temporarily used by IGA to enable the presentation and measurement of in-game advertisements and other in-game objects which are uploaded temporarily to your personal computer or game console and changed during online game play. The Advertising Technology does not collect any personally identifiable information about you, and EA will not provide IGA with any of your personally identifiable information. The servers used by the Advertising Technology may, from time to time, be located outside your country of residence. If you are located within the European Union, the servers may be located outside the EU. By installing and using the Software, you agree to: (i) the transfer of the Advertising Data to servers located outside your country of residence and, if applicable, outside the European Union; (ii)the collection and use of the Advertising Data as described in this Section; and (iii) the delivery of advertising and marketing content by the Advertising Technology. IF YOU DO NOT WANT IGA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, OR TRANSMIT THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, DO NOT INSTALL OR PLAY THE SOFTWARE ON ANY PLATFORM THAT IS USED TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET Heres an example of an IN GAME AD in BF2142 http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/9008/bf2142billboard2ha4.jpg